Cartoon Network acquires series rights

Internet sensation The Annoying Orange is bearing fruit on TV.

Cartoon Network has licensed TV rights to the franchise in anticipation of launching a series featuring the character next year. Created by Dane Boedigheimer, Orange is produced by management/production company The Collective.

Cartoon has ordered 30 11-minute installments of the series, which will fit into similarly formatted series on its Monday primetime schedule. Orange would alternate with returning quarter-hour favorites like “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show” as early as next summer.

Orange is already hugely popular with kids due to three years of exposure already on YouTube, where it is the ninth most subscribed channel, which has generated 850 million streams as of September.

“It’s fair to say that there’s not been a property before this that comes with this kind of success in another medium,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer at Cartoon.

Orange is the latest example of an Internet-bred concept being developed independently before being migrated upstream to mediums with richer monetization opportunities. Other assets that have made the transition include IAC-owned website College Humor, which had a brief run as a series on MTV; “In the Motherhood,” a Web series from Madison Avenue firm Mindshare turned into a series on ABC, and Fred Figglehorn, a property also from The Collective stable that has generated movies for Nickelodeon.

Collective and Boedigheimer had been developing a TV version of the IP for much of the year. They will retain ownership of the intellectual property and allows them to control any future sales in domestic or international syndication. That also gives them creative control of the series, but Cartoon is developing the concept with them.

Orange will continue on as a short-form Internet property, where Cartoon and Collective are betting that instead of cannibalizing the TV iteration, it can be harnessed to drive tune-in. Michael Green, CEO of the Collective, envisions a whole new audience discovering Orange.

“You could argue there’s a risk, but we think there are factions of audience that consume their entertainment through the cable broadcast, some do it online and there’s a lot of overlap,” he said.

In online form, Orange hangs from a slender creative thread: The title character is a talking orange with a human mouth conversing with other anthropomorphic fruit. Episodes typically end with an unsuspecting fruit being chopped in half with a knife.

On TV, an episode would run roughly four times as long. The story will be fleshed out online to have the title character engaging in time travel with various pals that have appeared in the series already.

To handle the TV transition, Boedigheimer has been teamed with some experienced hands in producing kids programming including writer Tom Sheppard (“Pinky and the Brain”) and producer Conrad Vernon (“Monsters and Aliens”).

The property has also recently launched a merchandise line and an app for Android and iOs.

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